Religious existentialists, Jasper and Gabriel Marcel, believed that the being is cloaked in mystery. Jaspers is of the view that in this modern age becomes conscious of being as whole, of himself and his limitations. He experiences the terror of the world and his own powerlessness. He asks radical questions face to face with the void and he strives for liberation and redemption. This accounts for the anguish faced by him. Jasper writes on the theme of anxiety:
By consciously recognizing his limits, he sets himself the highest goals. He experiences absoluteness in the depths of self-hood and in the lucidity of transcendence.
The theme of anxiety appears in Marcel too. Marcel’s reaction to despair is contained in his short book The Philosophy of Existence and in Homoviator. Despair, he says, is an expression of the will of negation as applied to being. Hope and despair are correlated in the view of Marcel:
The truth is that there can, strictly speaking, be no hope except when the temptation to despair exists. Hope is the act by which this temptation is actively or victoriously overcome.
Hence according to Marcel, despair is connected with isolation, hope with the bonds of communication. That man’s existence is a series of inescapable situations, full of suffering, conflict, guilt, and eventually leads to the final situation of death is the quintessence of existentialism and Anita Desai’s novels, especially, Fire on the Mountain is a fictionalization of this philosophy.